Morris Minor Review

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Morris Minor Review
The most friendly British classic is also one of the most affordable. Jack Carfrae reports
Morris Minor ReviewUnlike most post-war ‘woodie’ estates, Traveller uses a structural wooden frame; attractive, but this needs looking after

Minors aren’t renowned for their breathtaking performance and early cars may seem slow next to modern traffic. Charming though it may be, the early 918cc sidevalve engine musters only 27.5bhp and tops out at 64mph, which is really rather breathless by today’s standards.

Equally, the Series II 803cc overhead valve unit isn’t much better and parts are harder to come by for this and the earlier engine.

By far the most common and user-friendly version is the Morris 1000, which initially featured a 948cc engine from 1956 and, from 1962 a 1098cc lump. Neither are quick, but the latter is a little more potent and neither one minds being worked hard. Conversions to British Leyland 1275cc engines aren’t uncommon and make the Minor rather nippy.

Brakes are up to the job as long as they’re set up correctly, though cars with front disc conversions are a little easier to live with.

The steering is light and the ride a little bouncy, but that’s part of the appeal, and the Minor is actually quite delicate and easy to drive.

VITAL STATISTICS

MORRIS MINOR 1000

Engine 1098cc/4-cylinder/OHV

Power ([email protected]) [email protected]

Torque (lb [email protected]) 60lb [email protected]

Top speed 77mph

0-60mph 22.2sec

Consumption 38mpg

Gearbox 4-speed manual

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

BODYWORK & CHASSIS

Hot spots for corrosion are: sills, wheelarches, headlamp fixings, bumpers, panel gaps, door hinges and wings. All manner of rust can be hiding on the underside of the car, too. Your best bet is to inspect the bodywork as thoroughly as possible and in good light.

Woodwork on Traveller estates requires attention, as it is prone to rotting if the car hasn’t been cared for. Look out for discolouration or softness, particularly where the different sections join together (below).

ENGINE

Listen out for a deep thudding sound when starting the engine. If this is evident until the oil light goes out then the bearings in the engine are probably worn, which may necessitate a rebuild.

Remove the radiator cap and have a look at the coolant inside. If you can see any traces of oil on top of the coolant then there may be a head gasket problem. The usual check for a white and creamy residue on the inside of the oil filler cap will also affirm any issues with the head.

RUNNING GEAR

The rear axle and the propshaft are generally reliable, but the diff can wear out, especially if the car has covered big miles. If the unit starts to get noisy when you lift off the accelerator while on the move then a new one is in order.

Don’t worry about a slight whirring sound when accelerating in first gear. This is perfectly normal and is simply a characteristic of the Morris. What should cause concern is a grinding noise, which indicates wear in the gearbox.

BRAKES

The suspension components need greasing regularly – as often as every 3000 miles is recommended. Let it slack, and the trunnions and swivel pins can wear out quickly, but this isn’t fatal as replacements are cheap and easy to find. The leaf spring set-up at the rear is pretty archaic, and many owners have swapped the lower arm dampers for telescopic items. However, the dampers can rub against the tyres if they haven’t been fitted correctly.

All Minors came with front and rear drum brakes, which are fine as long as they’re set-up correctly and in good condition. Retrofitted front disc brakes and a servo aren’t uncommon and, again, are fine as long as the work has been done properly. Problems are more likely to come from the brake master cylinder, which sits under the driver’s footwell and is exposed to road debris. Swapping them is easy enough.

OUR VERDICT

If you must have an early Minor then be prepared to hunt for a good one and set aside some time to look for parts and get to your destinations. For many, the easy going appeal of the later 1000 will prevail. It is neither difficult, nor expensive to come by a tidy example, and there are so many around that you can afford to be picky.

Mint Travellers can change hands for £10,000, which seems like a lot for a Moggy, but that puts their increasing desirability into perspective.

We reckon that £5000 for a Minor 1000 in good nick is a reasonable price, and one that could pay dividends in years to come if the cars continue to grow in value. The timeless appeal of the Morris means that it probably will, too.

There’s a wonderful chumminess about the Morris Minor, a car that seesm to so perfectly sum up happy family life in the 60s.

The curvaceous, sit-up-and-beg looks, friendly face and everyman image render it one of the most affable classic cars around. That’s far from the extent of its appeal though, as the Moggy proved hugely popular when it arrived in 1948, then known as the MM or Low Light because the headlamps originally sat low down in the grille.

The saloon and the Tourer (convertible) were the first versions on the market, but when the Series II Minor appeared in 1952, the Traveller estate version followed a year later. Its external ash frame added an extra dose of charm and Travellers are now the most coveted of all Minors.

Over 1.3 million were built, so it’s still very easy to find a Minor in any kind of condition. We defy you not to be able to find one, even locally, such is their enduring popularity. Fantastically simple engines, a huge parts supply and strong club support make ownership all the more attractive, too.

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